Your Turn to Teach: Encouraging Parents to Start Their Own Community-Based Learning Centres to Build a Better Future for the Community.

Finding the right school for your child can be an expensive proposition. Seats are limited, admission is highly competitive, and the fees are going through the roof ! And even after paying through your nose, the quality of teaching is poor since teachers are bored and boring, and because classes are packed with too many students, your child does not get the attention he needs and is doing badly in school. You try to fix this gap by sending him to tuition classes, which just makes a bad situation even worse because your kid seems to spend all day sitting in classrooms, listening to lectures, while you get poorer day by day because of this financial burden !

Finding the right school for your child can be an expensive proposition. Seats are limited, admission is highly competitive, and the fees are going through the roof ! And even after paying through your nose, the quality of teaching is poor since teachers are bored and boring, and because classes are packed with too many students, your child does not get the attention he needs and is doing badly in school. You try to fix this gap by sending him to tuition classes, which just makes a bad situation even worse because your kid seems to spend all day sitting in classrooms, listening to lectures, while you get poorer day by day because of this financial burden !

Here’s a far better solution ! Set up a community-based learning centre in partnership with other parents.

You can educate all the kids in the neighbourhood using low-cost computers created by Selligion in India, loaded with free, high-quality content mapped to the syllabus. You can charge fees and thus become financially independent while educating the next generation, thus creating a sustainable, positive, and virtuous cycle.

You don’t need trained teachers . You just need to care about giving your kids the best possible education . You provide coaching, love, and guidance. The educational content will come from a wide variety of sources, such as magnetbrains.com , diksha.gov.in, khanacademy.org, www.missiongyan.com and nios.ac.in. This will be in local languages and English as well, so students are free to choose what works best for them. The goal is not to teach , but to help students learn for themselves !

Technology plus a caring human in the loop is the magic sauce . Kids will work hard to please an adult they respect and trust. A loving , motivated mother is far more effective than a bored, mediocre school teacher because they have a lot more skin in the game !

Parents will be much more holistic in their approach towards helping children learn real-life skills, rather than obsessing over completing the syllabus or scoring more marks in exams that only test memorization and not understanding. These pods will also be much more culturally friendly because they are embedded in the community. Kids will learn far more in these neighbourhood learning centres than they would in a government school or a for-profit traditional school.

If you need help, we can guide you. Our goal is to help students become self-directed, lifelong learners.

Your kids will have better social skills because they will learn from each other. Single-room schools allow older kids to teach younger kids, and peer-to-peer learning is sticky and impactful. They will also have more opportunities to learn from the real world because they won’t be locked up in school classrooms , listening to boring lectures .

Attendance is optional , which means the parents who run the pod will have to work hard to keep the kids engaged to ensure great learning outcomes, which they will have to demonstrate to their neighbours who pay fees to send their kids to the pod. These parents will have to be accountable, answerable, responsible and transparent ( unlike most school teachers today !) This model will spur creativity rather than force everyone to follow a one-size-fits-all template, which never works . Parents will adapt the model to suit the needs and wants of their own community ( for example , curriculum, content of lessons, class size, and timing).

The parents who run the pods will get paid for doing this, which means they are motivated and incentivized to provide high-quality services. They charge fees from the other parents who want a better alternative to traditional schools, and the well-run pods will attract more kids ! Charging fees are important because it’s a great way to learn if the pod is adding value or not . If parents refuse to pay, this means the experiment is failing. The fees need to be affordable and should be monthly, so parents can pull out their kids if they aren’t happy. This will keep the micro-entrepreneurs who run these pods on their toes because they will need to focus on delighting their users. Ambitious micro-entrepreneurs can franchise their model if they want to , so this can spread even further at the grass-roots level, and they can earn more.

The students will use a computer to access the world’s best educational resources, which are available for free online. The number of kids who share a computer will be between 1-2 students to optimise social learning, based on their age and the resources available.

Initially, you can start these as tech-enabled learning centres for after-school learning. Parents are used to sending kids to tuitions – and to paying for this, so this will be the easiest entry point. After kids have studied what they want to ( for example, clarify doubts or prepare for the next day’s lessons using the flipped classroom model), they will be free to explore whatever else interests them, including playing games !

The easiest way to document improved learning outcomes will be to show the parents that the marks their kids get in their school exams will improve . We think this will happen because they are learning at their own pace from the world’s best teachers !

There are still many unanswered questions.
1. What will the timing be ? Will it be after-school hours only ? Or will it replace school ?
2. How much space is needed to run this ? How many parents are needed to run this ?
3. How will the school earn credibility ?
4. What other facilities will the centre provide ? A library ?
5. How many kids will be enrolled at one time ? What ages will they be ?
6. What are the fees that will be charged ?
7. How do we document improved learning outcomes ?
8. Will each student have their own online learning portfolio to showcase their strengths ?
9. How will the school use community facilities ?
10. How will it interact with traditional schools ?
11. Will students have to give exams ? Will they prepare for the NIOS ?
12. Will they be given skill training as well ?
13. Will they teach the parents as well ? ( Many want to learn how to speak English, for example.)

There are no fixed answers , because one size doesn’t fit all . We need to run many pilots to find what works and what doesn’t. Each microentrepreneur will have to create their own solution based on the needs and wants of their own community !

Each of these pods will be different , and by sharing stories publicly, others will learn from their experiences and benefit from them.

What are some of the major challenges ?
For one thing, parents crave security and safety when selecting a school for their child because they don’t want to take any chances. They would rather send their child to a traditional school, even if they know it’s useless and their child is learning nothing, because it’s the socially accepted norm to do so. Also, it’s important to be able to offer some sort of certification that is recognised by the government to get official recognition ( even though this doesn’t improve learning outcomes). One possibility would be to tie up with https://nios.ac.in/.

Some of the operational issues are going to be

1. Identifying and training/mentoring entrepreneurial parents to run the pods in their communities
2. Establishing credibility and attracting early adaptor students and parents
3. A sustainable business model to account for both operational & capital expenses
Some of these questions are answered at https://microschoolbuilders.com.

If you are interested in exploring this, please email us at malpani@malpaniventures.com or contact.teachtoearn@gmail.com and begin a new journey.

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